13 March 1999 was the day that marked the end of an era for The Phantom. At the ripe old age of 87 years, Lee Falk's great heart struck it's last beat -- 63 years after he created The Ghost Who Walks. Lee had lived to see his greatest creation finally take form in a major motion picture, two Phantom publishers each produce over 1000 editions in their respective country (Frew and Semic/Egmont), and one of those publishers celebrate their 50th anniversary. The great man is dead, but his dreams and ideals live on in The Phantom ... thanks in no small part to the continuing efforts of all at Frew Publications in Australia.
Frew published 31 editions of The Phantom in 1999, with a total count of 1844 pages. The net cover price for all of the 1999 issues was $82.50, which is about 5% higher than the previous year. This was caused by a small increase in the price of the standard 36 page issue from $1.50 to $1.75, commencing with #1222 on 26 February. Incredibly, Frew had managed to keep their pricing structure unchanged for almost 12 years -- the first $1.50 issue was #887 in August 1987. This must surely represent another publishing record! Even with this modest price hike, the average price per page still remains below 1987-90 levels. Frew's The Phantom is still the lowest priced comic book on the Australian market. Unfortunately, the price for all Australian comics will increase by 10% when the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is introduced on 1 July 2000. You can thank Little Johnny Howard and the Judas Democrats for this bimillennium gift! A detailed breakdown of the size, price and number of issues published in 1999 is shown below, in comparison with the last four years.
Number of Issues # Pages Price 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 36 $1.50 19 20 20 24 3 36 $1.75 20 44 $2.00 4 2 1 52 $2.50 2 2 2 68 $3.00 1 2 2 1 76 $3.00 1 100 $5.00 2 3 5 4 6 116 $5.00 2 164 $6.50 1 Annual $10.00 316pp
+ #4 replica
+ #5 replica
+ #6 replica
+ #7 replica
+ #8 replica
Other $10.00 50th Anniv.
+ 44pp Index
TOTAL 31 issues
There were a total of 61 stories this year (including the replica edition). As usual, the Lee Falk classics deserve first mention. Of the 61 stories, 27 were reconstructed Lee Falk classics (see table below) -- the majority dating from the 1950s. Phans of the Wilson McCoy era were certainly kept happy this year! Frew also presented us with the last 5 stories from the master, two of these being co-written by his widow, Elizabeth. Combining these with the edited version of The Sky Band in the #8 replica edition (included with the Annual Special #1219), brings the total number of Lee Falk stories in 1999 to 33, spread out over 10 issues. Hence Lee Falk's stories represented 54% of the total number of stories published -- a significant improvement on last year.
Lee Falk stories reconstructed by Frew in 1999
Year Code Story Title Artist Issue # 1949/50 D36 The Thuggees McCoy 1234 1950 S25 The Ape Idol of the Durugu McCoy 1248 1952 S31 The 'Copter Pirates McCoy 1248 1952 S32 The Female Phantom McCoy 1219 1953/54 D51 The Super Apes McCoy 1219 1954 S37 The Belt McCoy 1219 1954 D54 The Wrestling Tourney McCoy 1219 1954/55 S39 Alexander's Cup McCoy 1219 1955 S41 The Crescent Cult McCoy 1234 1955 S42 The Horned Star Demons McCoy 1226 1955/56 D59 Queen Sansamor and the Sixth Man McCoy 1244 1956 D62 The Grove of the Sleeping Giant McCoy 1244 1957 S48 A Lesson for Prince Orq McCoy 1219 1957 S49 The Frameup McCoy 1234 1960 D77 The Monkey Mail McCoy 1230 1968 S73 The Little Ones Barry 1219 1971 S84 The Wig Barry 1248 1976/77 D132 Return of the Terrorists Barry 1227 1976/77 S101 The Swamp Dragon Barry 1219 1977 S102 The Hunters Barry 1248 1978 S106 Hzz and Hrz Barry 1223 1978 D139 Jungle City Barry 1230 1980 S112 The Uninvited Visitors Barry 1219 1982 D149 Tale of Rex Barry 1219 1982/83 S117 The Missing Link Family Barry 1219 1983/84 S119 The Eastern Dark Barry 1226 1986 D159 Ruler of Baronkhan Barry 1228 1998/99 D193 The Dakk Pirates Olesen/Williams 1223 1998/99 S149 The Floradon Mystery Olesen/Fredericks 1226 1999 D194 The Albee Olesen/Williams 1230 1999 D195 Terror at the Opera Olesen/Williams 1239 1999 S150 The Kidnappers Olesen/Fredericks 1239
During 1999, Frew printed 27 new stories originally published by Egmont, Scandinavia. There was only one multi-part story, and it came from a story written by Claes Reimerthi and illustrated by Romano Felmang, entitled The Last Phantom (2 parts, #1218 and #1220). All of Egmont's new feature stories from issue Nr.24/1998 through to Nr.26/1999 were reproduced in Frew's Phantom comic. Claes Reimerthi was by far the most prolific of the Egmont writers with 13 of his stories being printed. It is clear that Egmont recognise their reliance on Reimerthi, as two new writers have been trialed this year -- Ben Raab and Terrence Longstreet. It remains to be seen whether Egmont will keep them on or pursue other candidates. The task of illustration is more strongly supported by a group of highly experienced Phantom artists; so much so that the least experienced -- Joan Boix -- can already be considered a veteran of 4 years! A summary of the statistics for all Egmont writers and artists is shown below.
Last but not least ... the covers. As was the case in 1998, Jim Shepherd was the most prolific Frew cover artist this year with a tally of 12, closely followed by Glenn Ford with 10. Other art credits for the covers were as follows: Antonio Lemos (5), "Tessa" (3), and the Christmas Special issue cover constructed from Ray Moore daily strip art. Without doubt, my vote for the best cover of the year goes to Antonio Lemos for his wonderful effort on #1242 (see below), which rivalled his beautiful painted covers of 1997.
Writers Artists Claes Reimerthi 13 Romano Felmang 6 Tony de Paul 5 Joan Boix 6 Norman Worker 2 César Spadari 6 Terrence Longstreet 2 Hans Lindahl 3 Ben Raab 2 Carlos Cruz 3 Scott Goodall 1 Heiner Bade 3 Hans Lindahl 1 Jens Hansgård /
Cover Artists Jim Shepherd 12 Glenn Ford 10 Antonio Lemos 5 "Tessa" 3 Ray Moore 1
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